I want to do it!
Currently, my children are in a phase where they want to do everything by themselves from putting on their own sunscreen to cooking dinner for the family. All of which are great things but when time is of the essence, it’s a test of patience. This time, we were heading out for our first camping trip of the summer, and they expressed desire to pack the van themselves. I let go of my usual packing fetish and decided it would be super fun and empowering for them to complete this task on their own.
First things first, the bicycles needed to make their way into the van so that we could pack around them. My 8 year old daughter lifted her bike into the van without a problem. Now it was my 6 year old son’s turn. My daughter and I were watching him so that we could pack the remaining items after he was finished. He was really struggling with lifting his bike into the van. We watched him fail several times; he started to get really mad. His last attempt ended with him throwing his bike down and stomping on it a couple of times. My daughter stated how he shouldn’t do that and made some other incriminating comment. I thought to myself, I can understand why he is so upset and that it’s better that he take his frustration out on the bike versus yelling at us because we were standing there watching or hitting one of us, which is something he may have done in the past. I said, “It probably feels really good for him to get his anger out and that it’s ok to do this in a safe place where no one is getting hurt”. I then asked my daughter to come with me back into the house and let my son pack his bike.
A few minutes later, while my daughter and I were in the kitchen, my son came back into the house. He asked me to come to him. I went over to him and he said, “I love you, Mom”. I knew right then and there why he was telling me that he loved me. I asked, “Did you get your bike into the van”? He said, “Yes”. We all went back outside and I watched while the kids packed the van.
I knew because I allowed him to express his anger and validated his feelings when his sister tried to rile him up; he truly appreciated my response. In the past, I could have gotten angry at him for stomping on his “things” or would have just grabbed the bike and put it in the van so that we could move on with the process. Instead, I slowed down, allowed him to have his feelings, validated those feelings and left him to finish the task on his own. It made all the difference.